Dayton softball starting from scratch
When Dusti Houk was head softball coach at Dayton, the Dust Devils’ program was at its pinnacle.
Houk guided Dayton to the 2003 1A conference championshp and to the 2008 state finals. Since her departure as head coach, the program has sputtered. Last season, the program hit rock bottom, going 0-24.
Houk, who teaches at Dayton Intermediate, decided to return as head coach this season. The Dust Devils open their season next weekend at the Yerington Tournament.
“I missed the game,” Houk said during a telephone interview. “I wanted to get the program back on the right foot.”
Houk is a realist. She and her coaching staff of Mike Hein and Scott Onstott know it’s going to take a lot of hard work to turn things around. One of her first moves will be to try to piece together a summer program in an effort to get her players to play the game more than three months a year.
“Most of the kids didn’t play in the summer (before),” Houk said. “In a small community like ours, we try to share the kids. You can’t really specialize because you knock down other programs. Like volleyball, they are already starting to condition.
“It’s bare bones, but young.”
After an 0-24 season that saw the team hit .186 and commit 251 errors, there’s only one way to go and that’s up.
“We’ll be starting out with basic fundamentals,” Houk said. “The one gap I’ve seen is knowledge of the game. We’ll be making up for lack of experience by approaching things with an open mind.”
Houk said she would have a better idea of where the team stands after the scrimmages Saturday and the Yerngton Tournament.
In the circle, Houk has junior Grace Dickenson, freshman Caleigh Onstott and Kayla Celedon, who saw limited pitching action last year,
“Caleigh worked a lot in the off-season with Leah Wentworth from WNC,” Houk said. Another possibility is Kaycee Fisher, who’s awaiting NIAA approval because she’s a transfer student.
Behind the plate is freshman Aleea McGill-Howe, one of the few players to play travel ball over the summer. Tiana Snow is another possibility.
Houk has versatility in the infield. Briana Hill and Elizabeth Vincent can play three infield spots.
“We have a bunch of girls that will play where they can play,” Houk said. “We didn’t have to cut this year, so as I told the girls they didn’t have to do much to make the team, but they are going to have to work hard to get playing time.”
Houk said the hitting has been “not bad.”
“Each week is a steppingstone to see what we can do,” Houk said.
Houk is trying to set up an Alumni game for past players April 15-17. It will be held in conjunction with the Alumni baseball game. She said Friday would be a meet and greet at Dayton Valley Inn, the game would be on Saturday and there would be a golf tournament on Sunday. The cost for golf would be $80. All proceeds would benefit the baseball and softball programs.